When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it, and it is all one. – M.F.K. Fisher
I came upon Fisher’s quote a few weeks ago and as I turned the words over in my head I decided that after 11 long months of grief, I’m hungry again. I’ve been living on the divorce diet – despair, regret and whisky – for months, but now the time feels right to swap the bottle for a chef’s knife.
Food is love, and to cook for another – whether that be a lover, a friend, an acquaintance or just for oneself – is the ultimate act of love. Fraught with curiosity, trepidation and glee, along with the anticipation of that first, unexpected taste, cooking and sharing food with another is akin to falling in love.
After months of literal and figurative nothingness, where does one begin? Let’s start with spaghetti. Specifically, Spaghetti with Smoked Paprika Marinara and Smoked Salmon.
It sounds complex, but it’s deceptively simple. The star is the Smoked Paprika Marinara, an easy tomato sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic and onion, amped up with roasted red peppers, smoked Spanish Pimenton and an entire stick of butter. Take it slow and simmer the sauce for a least 30 minutes before you season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to add fresh basil and even more butter at the end.
If I was making it for a date, I’d likely make my fresh pasta by hand, but since I’m usually cooking for one, I turn to my favorite dried pasta. (A single girl’s dream, amirite?) As your sauce simmers, cook your pasta and flake up your favorite hot-smoked salmon. I love Pickled Willy’s Smoked Salmon, wild-caught and smoked on-site in Kodiak, Alaska, but use whatever you like. For the final step before that first anticipatory bite, mix it all together and top with handfuls of parmesan and fresh basil.
With layers of intense smoke and spice against a silky butter backdrop, Spaghetti with Smoked Paprika Marinara and Smoked Salmon has everything I like in a dining partner. And slowly, but surely, my appetite is returning.
- Find authentic Spanish Pimentón in the food aisle at TJ Maxx, specialty gourmet markets or on Amazon. Or sub in hot Hungarian paprika and a minced chipotle.
- Impress your family, friends and lovers with homemade pasta. Check out my class, DIY Homemade Pasta, on Skillshare. Comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll hook you up with a free trial.
- Consider Pickled Willy’s products for your holiday parties and check out my recipes for Pickled Halibut Ceviche and Spicy Crab Deviled Eggs.
- Cook for yourself. You’re worth it.
- Cook for others. They’re worth it.
- Smoked Paprika Marinara
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1½-3 Tbl. smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, skin removed and chopped (or 3 roasted red peppers, chopped)
- 1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped and divided
- More butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 (8 ounce) piece hot-smoked salmon, flaked and bones removed
- 6 ounces spaghetti
- Fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat a dutch oven over medium low heat saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add smoked paprika and cook 1 minute.
- Turn heat up to medium and add in tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go. Stir in bell pepper and about half the butter. Stir in butter as it melts and add remaining butter. Stir in ¼ of the chopped basil.
- Allow sauce to come begin bubbling and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30-60 minutes.
- After at least 30 minutes, check your sauce for taste, adding in more butter (!!!) and smoked paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remaining basil.
- While your sauce is cooking, flake your salmon into small pieces, removing pin bones.
- Cook pasta as directed until al dente.
- When ready to eat, top spaghetti with smoked salmon and marinara. Garnish with cheese and a handful of fresh basil.